LONDON, Nov. 14 (UPI) -- Conservationists say they have brought one of the world's most threatened bird species to Britain to start a captive breeding program.
Thirteen spoon-billed sandpipers arrived in Britain Friday after a 5,000-mile trip from their breeding grounds in Russia's Far East, the BBC reported.
After 60 days in quarantine at Moscow Zoo, the birds arrived at London's Heathrow Airport looking "bright-eyed, alert and active," officials of the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust said.
Spoon-billed sandpipers are threatened by the loss of crucial shoreline feeding sites along their 5,000-mile migration route from Russia to the wintering grounds in South and Southeast Asia, conservationists said.
The breeding program is part of an international group involving Birds Russia, Moscow Zoo, the RSPB and the British Trust for Ornithology.
"The ultimate goal is to release the offspring of this captive population back to the wild," Evgeny Syroechovskiy from Birds Russia, said.
"In the meantime, we must tackle habitat destruction and subsistence hunting, and give this enigmatic little bird a new beginning."